We are finally done with buying all the items for our kitchen remodel. We had to make a careful decision on what type of sink we will use. Once it’s mounted under the counter top, if we want to replace the sink it can cost several times more than the cost of the sink itself.
Stainless steel is a popular choice for kitchen sinks. Some sources say 70% of homeowners now choose stainless steel. I happen to not like stainless steel very much. When I looked for alternatives, I came across granite composite sinks, specifically a brand called Silgranit by Blanco.
The granite composite material is made to be scratch-resistant, stain-resistant, and heat-resistant. I also like the texture and color. There’s just one potential downside. I hear it can crack, either from impact with something heavy or from sudden contact with very hot liquids. Cracking is only a possibility. Not necessarily it will happen, just it potentially can happen.
From what I read, most of the cracks happen during transportation, or an undiscovered crack caused during transportation then gets exacerbated after it’s installed. Some also say previous generations of granite composite sinks and other brands may have this problem but the latest generation Silgranit brand with its patented technology eliminated the problem. Many owners don’t have any problems at all with their Silgranit sinks. In all likelihood we won’t either.
In the end we still chose stainless steel, because there is safety in the mainstream. Stainless steel isn’t perfect but it’s robust enough. Although we probably won’t have problems with a granite composite sink we just didn’t want that possibility. I don’t have to figure out whether cracking is real or a myth. Worrying whether our sink will crack tomorrow just isn’t worth it.
This is called a tail risk. It’s the opposite of insurance. You derive some benefits in normal times but you pay a large cost when the unexpected happens. Staying in the mainstream helps reduce the tail risk.
Index Funds vs Real Estate Crowdfunding
Investing in broadly diversified index funds has become mainstream. If the market crashes, you know it’s not your fault and you are not alone. It helps you stay in it. You don’t have to second guess whether you made a mistake.
Just the other day a reader asked me about investing in real estate crowd funding. Basically you fund real estate developers, who buy real estate, improve them, and then sell them. For some reason these real estate developers don’t want to or can’t get bank loans for their business.
Investing in real estate crowdfunding is not the mainstream. It may be a good way to earn a good return, but the thing is, you don’t have to venture outside the mainstream. Investing in index funds already works well enough. There is safety in the mainstream.
Employee vs Entrepreneurship
Successful entrepreneurship builds wealth faster because you leverage other people’s labor and other people’s money. However, working as an employee is still the mainstream. It’s not as fast but it works more reliably.
I recall this story on PBS NewsHour: 55, unemployed and faking normal: One woman’s story of barely scraping by. Elizabeth White has a Harvard MBA. She worked at the World Bank until she got the itch to start her own business. She had a chain of stores selling home decoration items but the business failed. That took away a chunk of her savings. Now she’s scraping by, unable to find a job.
I imagine if she stayed at the World Bank, the mainstream, she would’ve done much better in terms of her financial situation. Two friends of mine work at the World Bank in Washington DC. They were hired right after they got their degrees and they stayed ever since. As World Bank employees they don’t pay income tax. They are not scraping by.
It takes a certain mentality not to fall for the lure when news headlines are more about exceptions (“man bites dog“). You don’t get bragging rights when you go with the mainstream. You don’t get to feel clever about having found something that others didn’t (see My Friend is Beating Me). There is safety in the mainstream when the mainstream already works well enough. By staying in the boring mainstream you will miss some opportunities such as buying bitcoins at $10; you will also avoid the fate of Ms. White.